You might think it almost inconceivable that someone would misplace the information about an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) containing thousands of dollars. In fact, it is fairly commonplace. When there is a major life change such as a cross-country relocation or divorce, it’s easy for accounts and financial records to be misplaced. More often, you may find indications that a family member has or had an IRA. An unexpected death or the onset of a debilitating illness such as Alzheimer’s can lead to the loss of IRA account information.
Start your search to find a lost IRA by checking tax returns from previous years. Any tax deductions taken for contributions to an IRA must be listed. Most important, the name of the financial institution where the IRA is located will be on the return.
Review past bank statements. Contributions to an IRA will be listed. Bank statement entries may not state the money was deposited in an IRA account. However, you’ll be able to identify likely transactions easily enough. You or the owner of the IRA will have made contributions payable to a financial institution. Unexplained transactions can be checked out with that financial institution. If you don’t have all past bank statements, examine check ledgers or cancelled checks.
Contact previous employers. If you or the IRA owner rolled funds from a 401k or other employer-provided retirement plan into an IRA, the plan administrator can tell you the institution that received the money.
Contact mutual funds, banks or brokerage funds you find mentioned as you review financial records. They can tell you if there are accounts you aren’t aware of.
Search online for unclaimed funds in your name or that of the person who may have owned an IRA. You need not pay for an online unclaimed-property search. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators maintains a free search facility at MissingMoney.com.
Check with state unclaimed-property offices. When financial institutions have funds that are classified as abandoned or unclaimed, they eventually turn the money over to the state. You can find a list of state unclaimed-property offices and contact information at a website on The Unclaimed Property Page.